(Note: this post was originally published on October 15, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
The Perfect Fall Salad
During the fall, most people tend to gravitate away from salads and towards more hearty dishes. But I'm a firm believer that salads can work year-round, and this one in particular is a great way to help fresh veggies and fruits transition into the cooler seasons.
Pieces of this salad are so summery. That gorgeous leafy radicchio! That fragrant green basil! Those juicy cherries and succulent figs! It's sort of like the last lingering bits of warmth that characterize early October.
But other pieces are so autumnal. Wild rice is reminiscent of Thanksgiving. Walnuts are a common theme in a lot of fall food. All the fruit together makes me think of harvest celebrations. The deeper colors suggest shortening days and a departure from the raw, bright cuisine of summer.
This salad represents a meeting of summer and fall, and can therefore transcend seasons in a way that few salads can.
Seasonal Produce Bounty
This salad is satisfying and filling in a way that is difficult to achieve with a more summery salad. The wild rice is chewy and hearty, and it soaks up the dressing to become so flavorful. Wild rice is one of my favorite fall ingredients, but it seems a shame to wait until Thanksgiving to use it, right??
The other star here is that gorgeous red fruit! Here I've shown a combination of fresh figs (my greatest love!), cherries, two different kinds of grapes, and some slices of red plum. But you can really use what you love and what's in season.
This is also a dish that can evolve with the seasons. In early fall, I like to use fresh basil and more summery fruits, as shown here. But later in the fall, you could use fresh thyme and/or rosemary instead of basil, and could use apples, red pears, cranberries, and pomegranate arils in place of some of the earlier season fruits. Yes indeed, this seasonal beauty can work all fall long and even into the holidays!
Make It Work For YOU
This salad is really versatile, and I've made numerous versions of it over the years. Because all of the ingredients are pretty hearty, it would pack great for a lunch or a potluck. Adding your protein of choice would make it a fulfilling meal. I eat occasional local cheese and have added both feta and goat cheese with great success. A big platter of this would make an interesting and eye-catching dish for entertaining, and would be so fun because everyone can take what they like.
To prepare this salad in advance, you can make the dressing and the rice up to a couple days ahead. The rice (tossed with the dressing, cranberries, and nuts) can happily sit in the fridge. After you add the radicchio and fruit, keep the salad in the fridge and serve it within an hour or two. Add the fresh basil right before serving so it doesn't wilt.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Wild rice. I love super long grains! You can use whatever you like best, but make sure to follow your rice's specific cooking directions since they're all a bit different.
Dried, unsweetened cranberries
Radicchio. The bitterness of the radicchio is the perfect counterpoint for the sweet fruit, so I don't suggest omitting it. If you want another option, choose a green that's bitter or peppery.
Grapes. Shown here: a mixture of standard red grapes and miniature purple Champagne grapes.
Fresh basil leaves
Red wine vinegar. Cider vinegar will also work fine. Balsamic will be tasty but might make the salad look brown, so I suggest a lighter-colored option.
Wouldn't this be perfect for Thanksgiving?? This salad would make such a beautiful centerpiece that would surely be a hit. You could go really over the top by plating it in some roasted squash halves (oh yes!!!) and topping it with festive pomegranate arils.
I'm a very firm believer that salads are the most incredible canvas for showcasing seasonal ingredients, and this one is certainly a celebration of late summer and fall's best. This is a salad that's both cozy and fresh, humble and special, savory and sweet. I hope you savor every bite of this chewy wild rice and these luscious red fruits!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
It's much more than just food. Together we'll explore seasonal ingredients and healthy recipes. But we'll also delve into health and wellness topics, self care tips, books, podcasts, and the natural world. This newsletter is all about leading a more colorful, plant-filled, holistic, and intentional life.
This show-stopping wild rice salad celebrates the harvest season in all its abundance. Chewy wild rice, sweet and juicy red fruits, and bitter radicchio make for a surprising yet delightful combination that can act as a centerpiece for your festive meals all fall and holiday season long.
Cook your rice as directed, adding salt to the water (it makes a huge difference in the flavor!). Usually for wild rice, it's something like 2:1 water:rice; bring it to a boil and then simmer until all the water is absorbed. Some especially long-grained types of rice may take upwards of an hour, so be aware that this may take a bit of time.
While the rice is cooking, make the dressing.
When the rice is finished, add half the dressing and toss. The hot rice will soak up all the dressing and become super flavorful!
To the hot rice, add the cranberries and walnuts.
Cool the rice to at least room temperature, or keep it in the fridge overnight. Don't try to plate this salad while the rice is hot since it will wilt the delicate radicchio and fruit.
When you're ready to assemble the salad, cut the radicchio into thin wedges or ribbons and lay them out on a serving platter. Add the rice on top. Then, being as artsy as you like, add the fruit on top. As shown in the photos here, you'll see that I like to present each ingredient in a couple different ways (e.g grapes that are whole, cut in half, and still on the vine). Finish it off with some torn fresh basil leaves.
Serve the remaining half of the dressing on the side for drizzling over individual portions.